THE RIPPLE EFFECT

by Matt Thomas

I spoke with a gentleman a few years back who was hoping to find a new opportunity in Colorado. He was a VP at a mid-market SaaS company on the east coast. He made good money and his career had progressed steadily upward. With strong income, a stable job, and an environment that seemed to value and celebrate his contributions to the company I asked him why he was looking for something new? He responded, “You know, on the surface I am living the American dream. I’ve received promotion after promotion at a reputable company. I’ve made lots of money and for the most part I’ve enjoyed my work. The truth is my marriage is falling apart and I don’t know my kids. It’s time for a fresh start.” After a few seconds of silence that seemed to last for an eternity I told him I’d see what I could do to help. As impressive as his resume and obvious talent were, I was most encouraged by his vulnerability and willingness to do whatever it took to right the ship. He went on to share that the executive he reported to was a hard driver, expecting each of his VPs to put in 80+ hours / week plus regular travel. He hadn’t made it home for dinner on a weeknight in two years.

In a few months we found him a job with a good company on the Front Range. It was a lateral move with little to no increase in compensation or responsibility. Not the kind of jump that VPs making six figures typically make. About a year later I ran into him at a conference. He grabbed me in between sessions and to my surprise asked if he could give me a hug. After the embrace I asked him how things were going with his new gig. He shared about his first month on the job when the CEO came into his office at 5:30 one day and told him to go home and be with his family. The CEO made it abundantly clear that their culture prioritized health, personally and professionally. Working late nights week to week just simply wasn’t allowed. His eyes welled up with tears as he shared about the restoration in his marriage and relationship with his teenage boys. He shared about losing 30 lbs, new friends, and the vacation their family had planned for next month. He loved the work, believed in what the company was building, and felt valued and protected by the executive team. Quite a bit had changed since our first phone call.

The CEO made it abundantly clear that their culture prioritized health, personally and professionally. Working late nights week to week just simply wasn’t allowed.

Here was a good man who found a good job with a good company. The ripple effect of this simple equation has been extraordinary. It has rescued his marriage, restored his relationship with his sons, and allowed for a wave of wholeness and health to wash over him. I spend the majority of my time these days with business owners and employers. Unfortunately, many do not understand the gravity of what they provide for their people in a job with their organization. It’s common for leaders to view the employer/employee relationship as a simple transaction. I pay you $ and you do X. If you do X well I will pay you more $. When you make more $ you will be happier. Happier employees produce at a higher level and make the company more $. What goes on when you are outside of this office is your business, just make sure it doesn’t disrupt production.

Competitive compensation is important and should be prioritized, but if we boil down employment to dollars and cents we do our employees and our organizations a disservice. A good person with a good job at a good organization produces a ripple effect that impacts families, neighborhoods, cities, and more. Fathers and mothers who come home proud of what they do and how they do it are better parents. Healthy and engaged parents have a better chance of raising healthy and engaged children. Healthy and engaged young people change things for the better; cities, institutions, politics, etc.

A good person with a good job at a good organization produces a ripple effect that impacts families, neighborhoods, cities, and more.

It would be nearly impossible for me to be loving husband and father if I hated my job. In fact, I love my job and it’s still more difficult for me than most! Employers, do not underestimate what you offer your people when you offer them a job. It is so much more than an opportunity to add value to your organization and provide for their families. If you have a healthy culture, you may be inviting them into a new way of living.